Brian Giebel: The Amateur Professional

Brian Giebel the Amateur Professional

We met up with self-proclaimed “professional amateur” brewer Brian Giebel early one morning at the BrickHouse Brewery, while staff was busy zesting limes for an upcoming brew day of Lima Libre. Meanwhile, Flying Dutchman IPA, a beer Giebel collaborated on, is on tap right alongside the other BrickHouse staples. Though Giebel is still technically a homebrewer, this isn’t the first time his beer has been served at a Long Island brewery.

Giebel, who holds a Ph.D in chemistry, has homebrewing down to a science. The result has been several award winning beers, some of which have been produced commercially. His beers are a true labor of love; Giebel checks the fermentation temperature up to five times a day. “I obsess over them like children,” he says.

His success led him to approach Arthur Zimmerman, head brewer of BrickHouse, for some hands on experience on a larger scale. “They were more than willing to take me on,” says Giebel. He helped them out with general tasks but never got involved in recipe development until they wanted to talk about his Belgian beers.

So Zimmerman and Giebel sat down, along with brewer Paul Komsic, and set out to revamp BrickHouse’s Flying Dutchman IPA. “The cool thing about working with them is we constantly bounce ideas off each other,” says Giebel. The three formulated a recipe. Giebel suggested Sorachi Ace hops to add a peppery note to the beer.

Brewing on a larger scale still feels familiar to Giebel. One big difference is “more precise temperature controls.” In addition to Flying Dutchman, Giebel will have another beer on the Long Island scene shortly.

Muscat Love is a grape triple that Giebel produced with Great South Bay Brewery after winning a monthly homebrew competition. They were so pleased with the beer it is being entered into the Great American Beer Festival “Pro-Am” competition, which is an award for the best collaboration beer between a professional and amateur.

“It’s a real positive feeling to know people enjoy my beer,” says Giebel. “It really makes you think about doing something in the future.”

A limited amount of Flying Dutchman IPA is currently on tap at BrickHouse Brewery and Muscat Love will be on tap at Great South Bay by mid August.

This article originally appeared on Edible Long Island.

Ed Hahne and Mexicali Blues: an LIBME & Great South Bay Brewery Collaboration

Our friend and fellow Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiast and Brewers East End Revival Member Ed Hahne passed away on July 11th, 2014. We found out when we woke up the next morning after receiving a text from another friend and homebrewer Frank Filacchone. He sent us an odd message saying, “I’m sure you heard the bad news by now,” which we thought meant the beer both men recently brewed together, along with Mike Napolitano and Ed’s wife Lee Ann, at Great south Bay Brewery had turned out poorly. We never expected to get this news; in fact we thought Frank was just overreacting about a batch that had gone sour. We knew though when he followed up with another text reading “Call me now,” things were more serious.

It’s a shock when the first thing you hear when calling someone is that your friend is dead. When something like this happens so suddenly it jolts you, almost putting you outside of reality. We felt for the first few minutes after getting off of the phone with Frank that he couldn’t have been right, the information he had was wrong and he would call back any second with good news: Ed was ok. When this feeling wore off we both talked about how good of a person Ed had been to us and to those around us.

Ed Hahne was one of the most welcoming people we have met in our life. From the moment we met him both he and his wife Lee Ann treated us like friends. Ed was willing to take his time to ask us about how we were doing and how our wedding plans were coming along within the first few times of meeting us. He was that kind of person: warm, caring and wearing a big heart on his sleeve.

Ed was also a teacher and we felt honored to have many discussions with him about his life with Lee Ann and the many different experiences they had shared together. Alicia remembers vividly when Lee Ann told her about a surprise trip to California she booked for them both to visit breweries they always wanted to see. To go somewhere together, experience and taste life as a couple.

Now Ed is gone but we will never forget him and neither will his comrades in local homebrewing clubs LIBME & BEER. In fact, Long Island has a chance to taste the fruits of Ed’s brewing efforts and the result of winning the recent LIBME “Chopped”-style homebrewing competition, brewed in collaboration with Great South Bay Brewery.

Lee Ann Hahne, Ed Hahne, Mike Napolitano, Frank Filacchione and Andrew Luberto

Lee Ann Hahne, Ed Hahne, Mike Napolitano, Frank Filacchione and Andrew Luberto

Mexicali Blues is a stout brewed with Mexican chilis, cinnamon and vanilla. According to Lee Ann they “didn’t stuff the ballot box,” to end up with the perfect ingredients for a stout and were “very happy with each item they pulled”. Ed agreed with Lee saying that the beer is, “all about the Mexican Chilis. They are the ingredient X.” Frank Filacchione and Mike Napolitano wound up finding the chilis for the homebrewed version in a bodega in Brooklyn. However, the original vanilla extract they used didn’t provide the certain something they were looking for so a “secret concoction from home” was added, boosting the flavor.

We had the chance to taste this DIY version of Mexicali Blues June 4th at the monthly LIBME meeting. That night the “Chopped”-style competition was judged through a popular vote by those in attendance. Members tried each competing team’s beer then voted for the one they liked best. We both found Mexicali Blues to be our favorite and cast our votes for it. The beer was a nicely balanced stout with hints of vanilla, traces of cinnamon and a building but never overwhelming presence of Mexican Chili peppers. Frank, Mike, Lee and Ed made a wonderful beer together and deserved to have it declared winner.


GSB's Greg Maisch, Frank Filacchione, Lee Ann and Ed Hahne

GSB’s Greg Maisch, Frank Filacchione, Lee Ann and Ed Hahne

Mexicali Blues was produced by the Boil in a Bag (BiaB) method where the grain and full volume of water are added to one kettle, rather than two, to create the beer. This is sometimes seen as a short cut by other brewers and team Mexicali Blues felt a little heat when brewing their beer in a group setting at fellow club member Chris Kelley’s house. “We were mocked by the other brewers throughout the day,” said Ed Hahne. But with the win the old adage “He who laughs last, laughs best” was proven as the group was able to kick back and relax while all the other teams were still brewing or cleaning equipment. Ed called it, “A great irony.” (work smarter not harder instead?)

We hope that the beer the group brewed at Great South Bay with head brewer Greg Maisch hits the same subtle notes their winning beer was so gracefully able to play. The GSB batch was made on their one barrel pilot system and will be released this Saturday at the brewery. This beer, labeled an under dog in the competition by team Mexicali Blues, is something we are both very much looking forward to trying. In conjunction with the release Great South Bay will be honoring the memory of our friend Ed Hahne.

Frank Filacchione, Andrew Luberto, Mike Napolitano and Ed Hahne

Frank Filacchione, Andrew Luberto, Mike Napolitano and Ed Hahne

Last night we attended his wake. It was a sad yet somehow uplifting occasion. With around two hundred people gathering to pay their respects from all periods and facets of Ed’s life it became a celebration of our friend rather than just a chance to say goodbye. Throughout the wake there were many speakers sharing there wonderful memories of Ed. One of Ed’s friends, Bob, spoke and a point he made hit home with us.

He noticed that Ed had brought all of the people in attendance together. Ed touched so many diverse people throughout his life who now have a connection and learned so much from him. Bob suggested that is what Mr. Hahne’s legacy is: friendship, caring and community. We could not think of a more fitting legacy for someone who was so open and welcoming. We will be thinking of you when we sip Mexicali Blues on Saturday, Ed, and are going to cherish our memories and what you taught us always.

We will miss you Ed

We will miss you Ed

Chris Kelley's Basil in the Rye Brewed at Great South Bay Brewery

“You literally can’t pack anymore flavor into this” are homebrewer Chris Kelley’s sentiments about Basil in the Rye, a beer he brewed in collaboration with Great South Bay Brewery. As the winner of homebrew club Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts monthly competition he was able to craft his recipe on a micro-sized, professional scale. Why micro-sized? Because every batch of LIBME collaboration beer is brewed on Great South Bay Brewery’s 1 barrel pilot system. With such small quantities, all beers in the series are limited releases only available in the GSB tasting room in Bayshore, New York. Rarer yet is having the chance to try the original homebrew up against the finished commercial product; something Chris Kelley and Great South Bay’s head brewer Greg Maisch did with Basil in the Rye.

Basil in the Rye

“I’m digging it, digging it” says Maisch of Kelley’s homebrew. Previously having issues with capturing aroma in his beers, Kelley found this batch to have “big citrus and you get the aroma of basil as well”. The winning recipe was exciting for both brewers to work on, each eager to see what “little twist basil brings” to the finished beer. When tasting the batch brewed at GSB, Kelley found it “balanced” with more basil and spice than was present in his DIY version. Maisch said it “tastes like summer and hanging out in the backyard”. In short, Kelley feels they “nailed it” and we’d have to agree.

Chris Kelley Tasting Basil in the Rye
On deck in the series is Mexicali Blues, the winner of the Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts “Chopped” competition. Members of this team selected a stout as their base beer with vanilla and Mexican chilis as the additions and it resulted in a winning brew. We were on hand for the brew day last week and the beer is currently fermenting away, so look for it on Beer Loves Company and in the Great South Bay tasting room soon.

 

Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts Homebrew Competition Winners Brewed by Great South Bay Brewery

Chris Kelley, member of local homebrewing club Long Island Beer & Malt Enthusiasts (LIBME) had an idea: organize and host a “Chopped” style brew day. Ten teams participated, each having a head brewer and 1-2 assistants, and they were randomly assigned a style of beer and two ingredients. Additions ranged from wood to peaches to habanero peppers, with Kelley and team drawing a Rye IPA base with orange peel and basil.

He was “super psyched” by the prospect of citrus and hops because “they go together wonderfully”. The basil however had Kelley thinking, “What the heck am I going to do with that?”. Discovering orange and basil paired together in an Italian dish, he and his team wrote a recipe and brewed their beer. Kelley said, “It’s quite amazing the depth of flavor basil gives to hops”, finding the ingredients married well. He was pleasantly surprised with the result and the fresh IPA found its way into LIBME’s monthly homebrew competition, a collaborative effort with Great South Bay Brewery.

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The idea for an LIBME and GSB partnership came about during the Great American Beer Festival last year. The highlight for owner Rick Sobotka and COO Phil Ebel was the Pro-Am competition, which recognizes the best joint effort between a homebrewer and professional brewery. After taking a bronze medal for their Splashing Pumpkin, the Pro-Am winner was announced. Ebel recalled, “the guy that was sitting behind us won and he jumped up and screamed. It was one of those things that you’re just like, man, that’s a great feeling.” Both long time members of LIBME, they approached president Todd Long and education committee head Andrew Luberto, who previously ran a SMASH Brew Day at GSB, with the prospect.

Long was immediately receptive to the idea of working together, saying of GSB, “They’ve always supported the club and we’ve always supported them”. After meeting and seeing the benefit for all participants, the program began to take shape. Some stipulations were put in place, like no sour beers, barley wines or Russian imperial stouts, simply because they take too long to ferment. LIBME uses BJCP guidelines to judge all their competitions and to maintain quality control, the beers will only be brewed at GSB if they score higher than a 35. Provided it meets that standard, the winner of each month’s LIBME competition is now produced at Great South Bay Brewery and served in their tasting room. Sobotka is pleased with the results so far saying,

“Honestly I still feel like a homebrewer. I miss the days of casual brewing with friends and have regained a lot of enjoyment by offering this program.”

Luberto added, “I love the experimental nature of it” and appreciates the freedom homebrewers bring to a professional setting.

BLC_GSB_LIBME_Boil

Fittingly enough, last month’s winner was Kelley. He was invited to GSB for the brew day and assisted head brewer Greg Maisch with recreating the recipe on their small batch system. The one barrel pilot system was built in late 2009 at their other location in Bay Shore and resurrected it for this collaboration. Greg also started as a homebrewer with the philosophy, “If I could buy it I could make it”. He has been having a lot of fun working with the homebrewers and seeing the different techniques they bring to the brewing process. “This gives local homebrewers a goal to work towards”, Kelley said after the long day of brewing. His basil and orange Rye IPA is being released at Great South Bay Brewery Father’s Day weekend and will be available while supplies last. If it is anything like the homebrew batch we tried, it won’t be around for long.

BLC_GSB_LIBME_Space BLC_GSB_LIBME_Zest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chopped brew day photos courtesy of Chris Kelley.

Hops & Props at The Cradle of Aviation – February 8th 2014

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Saturday, February 8, was the first ever Hops & Props Craft Beer Festival at the Cradle of Aviation. Though a similar event has been held at The Museum of Flight in Seattle for the past 12 years with great success, this was Long Island’s first introduction to the merging of craft beer and aviation. An unlikely match, sure, but they seemed to pair together almost flawlessly.

Since this was the first time this event was held, both the participants and attendees were not positive what to expect. We spoke to many brewers and exhibitors who told us when they arrived earlier in the day to set up they had no idea how the evening was going to pan out. Instead of having everything set up in a large, circular arena, which is how many craft beer festivals tend to operate, Hops & Props saw vendors sprawled throughout the museum in an almost maze-like set up. We admit that it took us quite a while to make our first pass through, though this was more due to lots of stopping and chatting rather than getting lost. The amount of aviation exhibits that were existing in harmony with the craft beer and food tables was really a sight to see, and to everyones credit it seems like the venue was treated with respect.

The Cradle of Aviation housed over 40 tables most of which were pouring beer. Along side those were tables from Tapped Enterprises, The Beer Amigos & Earth Glass Project on hand to compliment the craft beer being served. In addition to the pretzel necklaces that could be had by simply signing up for the Tapped mailing list, there was also food for sale and to a lesser extent, free samples.

The local Long Island brewing community was well represented at Hops & Pros. We enjoyed the brews being offered by many of the local establishments. A few standout beers were being poured by up and coming breweries The Brewers Collective and Saint James Brewery.

Owner and brewmaster Jamie Adams was manning the tap handles himself behind the Saint James Brewery table. He was serving up his delicious Belgian inspired IPA, Single, Dubbel and Quad to event patrons. Each beer was well crafted and carefully considered. The Quad is a brew we wish was available commercially. Hopefully that day will be coming soon as Mr. Adams is working on getting SJB up and running (our article on SJB is coming soon). These are nicely produced ales and we believe they will satisfy both beer and non-beer drinkers of Long Island.

Our comrades The Brewers Collective are another local group looking to make the move from homebrewers to professional brewery in the near future. The BC, in keeping with their off-kilter brewing themes, is not aiming to accomplish this goal in the “normal” manner. More on their long march toward their dream soon. At Hops & Props The Collective once again was offering an eclectic selection of hand crafted beer. Arguably one of our favorites was Tim Dougherty’s “Fallout Stout”. This dark, smoky ale is a play on the brewery’s standard dry Irish Stout (ICBS). According to The Collective Tim, “…added some smoked malts from his backyard smoker” which achieves the perfect combination in their estimation. This beer was a highlight for both of us at Hops & Props and at The Brewers Collective Winter Homebrew Contest where we first sampled it. The beer that attendees could not get enough of was Brad Khole’s Black Berry Wheat Beer. The Collective told us that it was, “…the first keg to “get kicked” with people saying it was, “…like drinking fruit loops”. How could a beer like that not go over well? Excellent job comrades!

Among the up and coming breweries Long Island staples like Blue Point Brewing Company, Montauk Brewing Company, Great South Bay Brewery, Long Ireland Beer Company and Greenport Harbor Brewing Company were also out in full force. We even got to try beer from breweries which were new to us, such as Singlecut Beersmiths and Chatham Brewing LLC. To round it all out, craft beer giants and favorites like Sam Adams Brewery, Dogfish Head Brewery & Founders Brewing Company each had a few taps flowing. In a complete turn was Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer, which was fairly flavorful and could make a decent hot summer day cocktail.

Though we were a bit tired from the Southampton Publick House Russian Imperial Stout release earlier that morning (more about that soon), we enjoyed our time at Hops & Props thouhrally and wound up staying until the very end. The setting definitely enhanced the beer sampling experience and it is an event that we hope to participate in for years to come. All in attendance seem to have had a great time and we would declare the innaugural Hops & Props at The Cradle of Aviation a success. Beer & aviation…who knew?

 

Hops & Props Craft Beer Festival – February 8, 2014 in Garden City

HOPS-&-PROPS

Saturday, February 8, the first annual Hops & Props is coming to The Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, New York. Hops & Props takes place right on the floor of the museum and features craft beer, cigars and food all steps away from historic planes and aviation memorabilia. Though local breweries will have a heavy presence, there will be national favorites on tap as well. To name a few, Blue Point Brewing Company, The Brewers Collective and Long Ireland Beer Company will be representing Long Island while Founders Brewing, 21st Amendment Brewery and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery will be right alongside them.

The festival runs from 7-10 pm, with general admission tickets costing $65 if they are purchased in advance. Each ticket includes admission, unlimited 2 oz. pours of beer and food samples, with additional food available for purchase. If three hours of food and craft beer just isn’t enough for you, upgrade to a VIP ticket for just $20 more. With your VIP ticket you will be allowed access from 6-10pm, with many exclusive beers only being poured during the first hour. Designated driver tickets are also available for $20, so be sure to either have a DD or get on the Tapped Enterprises Long Island Beer Bus. All patrons (except designated drivers) will receive unlimited 2 oz. samples of any beer of their choosing as well as a souvenir Hops & Props pilsner glass to take home.

Though this will be the first ever Hops & Props at the Cradle of Aviation, it is not the first time craft beer and aviation have met. Similar events have been held for years at the Seattle & Oshkosh Aviation Museums with great success. The Cradle of Aviation is also home to A Taste of Flight, the largest wine expo on Long Island that takes place over two days.

When looking for brewers, event organizers first started with local breweries and expanded out from there, keeping the emphasis on all things craft beer. They were surprised with the amount of breweries that expressed their interest in participating, so the event floor filled up even more quickly than expected. Though all beer at this first event will come from professional breweries, they would love to have homebrew clubs participate next year (we’re looking at you B.E.E.R & L.I.B.M.E).

Limited tickets are still available, so be sure to get yours quickly and be a part of the inaugural Hops & Props Craft Beer Festival.